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4 June 2005, 12:20 pm
Semi Finals Begin
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BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup 2005
Annapolis, USA

Solid breeze yesterday morning allowed the remaining six flights of the second round-robin in the 2005 BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup international women's match racing regatta to be wrapped up and the first stages of the semifinals sailed before cold and rain drove the competitors, umpires, and organizers from the water.

'Despite the rain, the breeze was good pretty much all day,' said Regatta Chair Jeff BORLAND. 'We were able to complete the double round-robin by lunchtime and get in two semifinals.'

The regatta, which is being contested by ten of the world's top women match racers, is being sailed out of Eastport Yacht Club (USA) by teams of four on J/22 sloops on the waters of the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis (USA). Competition began Wednesday and will continue through today.

By the time the final flight of yesterday's round-robin racing ended, Swedish sailor Marie BJORLING, who won the Santa Maria Cup in 2002, was undefeated through all nine matches of the first round-robin. She won only five of the second round's matches, but her results were good enough to earn the number-one spot at the top of the leader board and guarantee her a spot in the semifinals.

Bermuda Olympian Paula LEWIN, who won the title herself in 1998, made a strong surge through the second round-robin, winning eight of nine matches, and earned second place in the rankings going into the semifinals after losing a scoring tiebreaker to BJORLING.

Meantime, French sailor Claire LEROY, currently ranked number one by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), landed solidly in third with 13 points as US sailor Betsy ALISON, a former Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and winner of the Santa Maria Cup in 1997 and 2000, continued yesterday's strong performance to nail down the fourth and final spot in the semifinals.

For the semifinals, BJORLING is paired with ALISON, while LEWIN is sailing against LEROY. After today's two semifinal matches, scores were even, with each team having one point apiece. The semifinals have a 'knockout' format, in which the first team to earn three points advances to the finals. At the conclusion of the semifinals, the two winning teams will race another best to three points series, while the other two will face off in a petit final, best to two points competition.

Jeff Borland. Image:© Walter Cooper
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